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Science Technology

Electronic Contact Lens Displays Pixels On the Eye 126

An anonymous reader writes "The future of augmented-reality technology is here — as long as you're a rabbit. Bioengineers have placed the first contact lenses containing electronic displays into the eyes of rabbits as a first step on the way to proving they are safe for humans. The bunnies suffered no ill effects, the researchers say."
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Electronic Contact Lens Displays Pixels On the Eye

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    A single pixel. One might even say, First Pixel!
    • Re:Pixels? (Score:4, Informative)

      by MstrFool ( 127346 ) on Thursday November 24, 2011 @02:39PM (#38159966)

      First time my butt... 2008, with photo of an even more complex working lens, on a rabbit's eye. From Slashdot, and from 2008 and 2009, respectively. Took a while to sort through all the google echos of this being the first time, to get to the older pages where it had already been done. Though it is comforting to know that even more people are working to help create our soon to be our Human-Rabit hybrid Cybernetic overlords, whom I, for one, will welcome.

    • Now that that's out of the way... Even a single pixel can be quite useful if applied correctly. Use it as a toxin/radiation alert in high risk situations. Covert navigation. Just always knowing due north in any condition can permit a skilled navigator to get most any where, and would be unlikely to be picked up by enemy nightvision, unlike a glowing compass. Communications, mores code as mentioned in a post below, useful in covert tactical, even if used for nothing more then a 'holy (whatever)! Abort! Abort

    • First post was modded down, in the usual knee-jerk reaction. I actually chuckled at it. Wasn't worth ROFL, but it was a bit funny. Some people should never get mod points.

  • Strange Coincidence (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jenic ( 1231704 ) on Thursday November 24, 2011 @10:04AM (#38157648)
    A strange coincidence that I happen to be reading Rainbows End right now.
    • ... get out of my head!

      I just started reading it; I'm about 10% of the way through. Since the raw text was freely available (for a while), I used it as an opportunity to learn about the ePub spec and to compile one from scratch. Looks awesome, IMO! Trickiest part was properly replacing the straight quotes with left- and right-quotes =S

  • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Thursday November 24, 2011 @10:04AM (#38157656) Homepage Journal

    I've been dreaming about this since forever.

    If they can work CCDs into them too so they can function as an eyetap I'll sell everything I own except maybe my truck to get them. (gonna need a new portable computer to go with anyway)

    • Now all I need is software to recognize my wife and overlay the image of Natalya Rudakova, Milla Jovovich, Kristen Stewart, Jordana Brewster, Ali Larter, Tara Reid, and Olivia Munn depending on the day of the week, and they will have the best selling product of all time. Oh wait, perhaps they should make it recognize the wearer's wife, cause I don't want every guy on the face of the planet oogling over my wife you perves!

      • by Anonymous Coward

        You seem to have some weird obsession with women who look like bitches.

        Noticeably absent from your list:

        Alyson Hannigan
        Laura Bertram
        Amanda Tapping
        Megan Fox
        Jewel Staite
        Cate Blanchett
        Julie Benz

      • You watch TV shows too much if you want that kind of woman for a wife.

      • by rakaur ( 984920 )

        Kristen Stewart is better looking than your wife? Geeze, dude. I'm sorry.

      • I know your joking, but the technologies required to implement this already exist.
        • by Anonymous Coward

          The technology to auto-correct "your" and "you're" also exists, yet, you are still unable to spell correctly.

        • I know your joking, but the technologies required to implement this already exist.

          Of course... maybe not contact lenses, but lenses nonetheless (aka goggles). These were invented by thirsty monks thousands of years ago.

        • by hawk ( 1151 )

          Yes, they were featured in a documentary on game shows a while back. It was called, "Running Man" or some such.


    • (gonna need a new portable computer to go with anyway)

      dude... are you stuck in 2003? Think about how small computers are now... think about Moore's Law... can the notion "portable computer" get any more redundant? They've been hiding them in greeting cards for some time. I guess one needs to be specific, though... had you just said "new computer" maybe someone would have thought you meant a data center... and would have criticized you for wanting to drag that around with you.

  • You can't focus on anything that close to the lens.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 24, 2011 @10:10AM (#38157690)

      Read the article - contact lens is a fresnel lens []

      • by dbamps ( 802420 )

        Could have been reading Watership Down while listening to Bright Eyes by Art Garfunkel.

      • by TheLink ( 130905 )
        Does that mean you would have to take off the contact lens in order to see other stuff clearly (e.g. stuff not on the display)?

        Otherwise you'd then have to wait for tech that can either focus for both or switch between display and "real world" (maybe even rapidly).
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      From TFA comment:

      To focus the light on the rabbit's retina, the contact lens itself was fabricated as a Fresnel lens - in which a series of concentric annular sections is used to generate the ultrashort focal length needed.

    • by AikonMGB ( 1013995 ) on Thursday November 24, 2011 @10:42AM (#38157870) Homepage

      You should get a research position with the lab, you obviously have a far deeper understanding of the subject.

    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      There's no magic in light, any object at any distance is just a pattern of light when it hits your eye. If we place a contact lens over your eye and emit that same pattern, you'll see the same. You're not focusing on the lens itself, the lens is sending light that will look focused when it hits your retina. It's an optical illusion, sort of like the opposite of a 3D screen - we can make things appear at any depth we want.

      • by nomel ( 244635 )

        This would still require a lens to create a virtual image some distance out...which would totally screw with your normal vision. Not enough details in the article to know if they found some lens equation breaking way around this (like laser painting).

        • This would still require a lens to create a virtual image some distance out...which would totally screw with your normal vision.

          Why would it? It's trivial to project things at "infinite distance", and no, it doesn't screw your normal vision at all. Ever seen a red dot or holographic sight?

  • Pixel, singular. Not Pixels. Just one pixel so far.

    • I guess I'm going to have to relearn Morse code.
    • You only need very few pixels to make a working digital clock.

      So first application: digital eye watch.

    • But what if they added a motion sensor so that they can switch the pixel on and off while the user is moving his eye, depending on the direction he's looking at? Would they be able to create a shape like that? (A bit like the clock with a single row of LED's swinging back and forth to display time). Of course you'd have to keep moving your eye continuously to see the shape...
  • by Dyinobal ( 1427207 ) on Thursday November 24, 2011 @10:14AM (#38157712)
    The bunnies suffered no ill effects until one researcher rickrolled them (purely in the name of science) and well we can't post the footage of what happened then but use your imagination and then add more blood.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Another place to put ads!

  • by stevew ( 4845 ) on Thursday November 24, 2011 @10:39AM (#38157856) Journal

    It may very well be practical to put electronics next to the eyeball to do a display or whatever, but you do NOT want to put any kind of RF source/sink there. There would only be two ways to power such a unit - solar and RF energy beamed in ala RFID. The pictures I've seen suggest the latter. Having a resonant antenna at such frequencies would scare the heck out of me. Local heating or perhaps re-radiation at microwave frequencies next to something that is essentially H2O? You do KNOW that is why microwave ovens work.

    I think I'll stick with LCD monitors.

    • Hopefully further studies will show us if what you fear is true or not (hopefully not, as I want one of those :] ).

    • You do KNOW that is why microwave ovens work.

      Actually, no I don't, because that's not how microwave ovens work. The resonance situation you are referring to only occurs in water vapor, not liquid, and then only at much higher frequencies. Microwaves operate by causing polar molecules, such as water, to repeatedly flip back and forth in an oscillating magnetic field. These spinning molecules impact each other, resulting in heat.

      The bigger issue is that your eyes constitute a large volume of polar liquids with relatively little contact surface to con

      • To be fair, you want to restrict the amount of power on anything that shines that near to your eyes.

        And, RF being present or not you'll need to take heat dissipation into account.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Bullshit! Microwave ovens additionally require ROTATION. Otherwise it wouldn't heat even remotely as much, as it's essentially just stronger cell phone radiation. That's why it only works on water: The water molecules are the only ones that can freely rotate and have a polarization.

      Also, those things won't need to reach as far as a cell phone, let alone have the power of a microwave. 2 meters reach would be enough.

      Also: Do you know what also heats your eye balls with ultra-strong partially ionizing radiatio

  • by RadioElectric ( 1060098 ) on Thursday November 24, 2011 @10:39AM (#38157858)
    You can't read text in your peripheral vision. The best they could hope for would be sticking rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) text in the fovea (i.e. flashing up a rapid sequence of words right in the centre of the visual field). This could work, but it's hard to see why anybody would want it. You wouldn't be able to multi-task, because the text would be in the way. You wouldn't be able to access the text in a non-serial fashion either, which removes any advantage over having it presented in audio form.
    • by frostfreek ( 647009 ) on Thursday November 24, 2011 @11:25AM (#38158158)

      Well, what if there was a computer attached to it with sensors that could read your eyeball's orientation, and adjust the display so that the floating text appeared to be a stationary object.
      Then, reading from a page would look about the same as looking at a semi-transparent monitor.

      Is it possible to track an eye that fast?

      I can see it now, "Vision Display 1.1, now with MotionPlus(tm)"

      • Is it possible to track an eye that fast?

        Probably not currently. But then, last year, we couldn't put pixels on your eye lens. I don't know of any absolute reason why applied technology couldn't solve this problem (i.e., no law of nature prevents it). So I would guess we'd get exactly that.

        Combined with a good model of your environment, and the VR system can put the text on any surface. Now all T-shirts can have amusing slogans on them!

      • Once you've done that it's functionally no different to installing the tech into a wearable headset. Putting it into a pair of glasses would actually be a lot simpler because you never have to factor out the eye movements, comfort and safety are less problematic, and you have more space to work with. It's possible that the lenses for focusing the image at a close distance might not work when they're not fixed to the eye's position though.

        Actually, the problem with the method you lay out is that I'm prett
    • Replying to comment as requested.

      I'm afraid I won't be able to attend.


    • by Anonymous Coward

      You'd obviously have tot show the virtual image in an apparent fixed location in real space, or at least fixed relative to yourself. This would involve updating the display during eye saccades and head movements so that the virtual image can be perceived just like a real object.

      I'm guessing that if you don't do this, you wouldn't see the image at all for the same reason that you see negative afterimages after staring at the same thing for a while: the photoreceptors in your retina get depleted.

      • You're right, you'd get fading for any perfectly fixed image. You could always modulate it to avoid that though.

        The problem I find with doing as you say (simulating that the text display is at a position in space) is that next you might want some way to turn it on and off. Maybe a hand gesture? And then a way to manipulate the text? More hand gestures? Speech recognition? If it has to do significant processing you're going to need some external hardware. At what point are you basically simulating picking
    • I've just had a chat with someone else working in my lab who pointed out that beyond my problems with this, the projected image itself would appear to jump erratically around. This would be for the exact same reason that we usually don't notice our eye movements (i.e. stabilisation in the brain factoring them out).
    • I'd prefer some light Head Mounted Display that offered a full field of view and good resolution. We haven't even managed that yet (at least not in any affordable way). I've been waiting for a decent HMD for over 20 years and we still aren't close. I remember getting particularly excited about the Virtual Retinal Display [] in the late 90s. Basically low power lasers being fired into your eyes, but the great thing is that the focus of the pixels can be varied, so you have to refocus on things in a normal way r
  • Am I the only one who fears this simply for the possibility of advertisers using it to force us to view even more ads? FF a DVR past commercials? Ads. Popup block on . Ads. Walking down the street, in front of my business? Ads.
  • by roman_mir ( 125474 ) on Thursday November 24, 2011 @11:12AM (#38158064) Homepage Journal

    the next big thing: hijack other people's vision by cracking whatever needs to be cracked (and it seems there is nothing to crack there, except the frequency at this point), send advertising directly into people's eyes.

    You can't even CLOSE your eyes at that point, you close your eyes and the images still keep on coming! (which, by the way, could be a new way to do something about insomnia for some people, just project the jumping sheep right into the eyes for a while).

  • This will pave the way to a whole new way to goof off in class: Kids will have their eyes and "full attention" on the teacher, all the while playing 3d-shooters or watching porn!

  • by Hentes ( 2461350 ) on Thursday November 24, 2011 @11:23AM (#38158144)
  • >> powered remotely using ... gigahertz-range radio-frequency energy from a transmitter placed ten centimetres from the rabbit's eye

    >> tests showed no damage or abrasions to the rabbit's eyes after the lenses were removed. ... so wait... sending high energy microwaves into an eye suddenly doesn't cook it any more?

  • I wear glasses already, so I'm already used to it.
    And frankly, I don't want anyone messing with my eyes.
    Plus when it's broken you would not need a surgeon
    And putting it on the glasses also solves the peripheral vision problem! If they can make the display small enough to fit in the eye, it's not really harder to make a non intrusive display on glasses.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      and... it's here !! although still heavily over expensive!!! (hope you guys over at vuzix take note, all yer products would sell like crazy if they were under the 100$ limit):

      specially like the tac eye...

  • by Dusthead Jr. ( 937949 ) on Thursday November 24, 2011 @12:01PM (#38158448)
    Yes I know it's all fiction and all that, but I always seem to imagine the whole "Robocop/Terminator" vision thing as taking place inside their brain rather than on the surface of their eyes. Something like video gen-lock that takes the video feed and overlays text on top, bypassing the whole focusing issue. I remember trying to visualize what how that would work in a pair of glasses, so I put my cellphone right up to my eye while trying to keep the screen in focus. I could, sort of painfully. Then I also realized that I would need to focus on the everything else. I would have to focus on something very close and far away, at the same time. I would like to know how they accomplished this.
  • I find it interesting that animals are actually the forerunners in practical use of almost any technology. I bet they still can't beat the poor future tripper whose lenses have dried up and stuck to the eyeballs. If only people would apply as much care and reason to applying the tech as the scientists when handling the poor beings.

  • The first version may only have one pixel, but higher resolution lens displays - like those seen in Terminator

    No character -- that I am aware of -- had electronic contact lenses in the movie Terminator. I don't recall John Connor or Kyle Reese wearing such lenses. The titular character had a graphical display overlay on the visual input from it's "eyes", but it did not wear contact lenses [].

  • px are for kids!
  • With our super contacts just look at your paper and copy the results.

  • Once everyone gets RFID chipped, you could get name info as you see them, and tag the name with comments, so next time you see that a-hole in a crowd, there would be a bubble over her head displaying "A-HOLE" Useful, too bad you can't do it with car drivers already.. The future is bright.
  • by cowtamer ( 311087 ) on Thursday November 24, 2011 @03:04PM (#38160112) Journal

    I hope someone out there realizes that contact lens display will require an entirely new rendering paradigm for virtual reality (or 3D graphics in general -- but if you have a contact lens display with essentially 360 field of view, why NOT do Virtual Reality?).

    The eye only sees about 2-3 degrees at once, and scans the scene so that your brain can create a 3D reconstruction. Instead of just pushing a high number of pixels at a high FPS, it will make a LOT more sense to track the eye and render what the viewer is looking at in very high resolution, and the rest of the scene in lower resolution. This needs to be done with both eyes while taking into account vergence and accommodation (which object each eye is pointing at, and where the eye is focusing).

    If 3D graphics researchers are smart, I see a LOT of good research coming up in rendering paradigms made possible by this type of display which give an effective 100+ megapixel display while using only several megapixels of rendering capability...

    If they are NOT smart, we'll see some heads-up display type of applications with annoying text which moves with your eye movement ...

    There is some preliminary work being done which may aid this in Foveated Rendering [].

  • Now for the digital hearing aid, which will transform anything said to me into a compliment.
  • by BlueCoder ( 223005 ) on Thursday November 24, 2011 @03:57PM (#38160462)

    But there are technical hurdles.

    One is the power requirements. How bright do the LED's need to be being so close to the eye. Next there would need to be very fast electronic processing in the contact lenses, and it would have to be very fast. It would need to be able to process a radio signal and display the results in real time and there would need to be enough radio spectrum and data throughput for at least three people or four people within a cubic meter. So obviously the first displays will be monochromatic and a very simple self generated text/vector displays rather than video. That would be sufficient for a HUD setup. The lenses will probably be expensive so more than likely they would be implanted within the eye like artificial corneas and will likely take up the entire surface of the eye and require removal of the eyeball from the socket for implantation.

    They will need a refresh rate at least ten times faster than the eye and be able to detect orientation and focus and be able to compensate. Only what is in the center of vision would need to be in focus.

    Then there is the question of heat generation. Even a small amount of heat my degrade the health of an eye. The more processing the contact lens does the more heat it generates. While I do think that someday electronics may be low power enough to run on the equivalent power of static electricity shock for an hour we are nowhere near there yet and probably won't be for a hundred years.

    I see implants that tap into the optic nerves as far more likely and realistic. They could run on glucose and oxygen in the blood and could generate a little heat while being tolerant of our bodies latent heat. If the device doesn't generate a signal the the optic nerve would operate normally but with an active signal and under normal circumstances it would be switched to an artificial processed signal. Imagine televisions being no more than a green screen but having an overlay of a video signal generated electronically inside your head. I can also imagine artificially perfect eyes mechanically similar to our natural ones but far superior being offered as replacements once the optic nerve can be tapped. The bionic eye could be feasible to where you could recognize someone a football field away and or focus on things very close up. A greater sensitivity to light to see in the dark as well as frequency shifting effects so you can see infrared and ultraviolet light.

    • by UpnAtom ( 551727 )

      The real killer here may be that the eye differs greatly from what we see. Eyes focussing on a fixed object have stochastic type movement ( yet what we see is a stable 3D image.

      Any display that moves similarly is likely to be highly distracting.

  • by Tastecicles ( 1153671 ) on Thursday November 24, 2011 @07:33PM (#38161664)

    ...loaded with Windows eye9, driving along in my spanking brand new Jag XF, when suddenly...

    No. I don't even want to think about the whole new dimension to "Blue Screen Of Death".

  • How do we know? Perhaps the poor bunnies all are soldiering on through terrific migranes... :D

  • Cyrus Grissom: Make a move and the bunny gets it.

    Bunny: I calculate an 83% probability that you will not pull the trigger.
  • I don't see why they are bothering with rabbits. Torchwood had model that worked with human eyes years ago!

    In addition to being able to display text to the wearer wirelessly, the contact lenses also double as a camera, so that they transmit what the wearer is seeing back to a laptop.

    Documented here [].

Recent investments will yield a slight profit.